COVID-19 and Cruise Ship Travel

Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19

Key Information for Cruise Ship Travelers


  • CDC recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. That's because the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high, since the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships. It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises.
  • Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships.
  • People who decide to go on a cruise should get tested 1–3 days before their trip and 3–5 days after their trip, even if they are fully vaccinated.
  • In addition to testing, passengers who are unvaccinated should self-quarantine for 7 days after cruise travel, even if they test negative. If they do not get tested, they should self-quarantine for 10 days after cruise travel.  
  • Passengers who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine or a vaccine authorized by emergency use by the World Health Organization do not need to self-quarantine after cruise travel.
  • See recommendations for cruise ship travelers.
COVID-19 Levels

 

Level 4: Very High

 

Level 3: High

 

Level 2: Moderate

 

Level 1: Low

 

Level unknown

Learn more about COVID-19 levels.

See all COVID-19 travel notices.

What is the current situation?

On May 5, 2021, CDC released the next two phases of the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO, originally issued October 30, 2020) for cruise ships operating or seeking to operate in U.S. waters. The CSO is a phased approach to resuming passenger operations on cruise ships. The initial phases required crew screening to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 among all crew members currently on cruise ships in U.S. waters. Previous phases provided information about agreements between cruise lines and port and local health authorities, updates to the color-coding system used to classify ships' status with respect to COVID-19 on board, and information about routine crew testing. With these next phases, CDC is providing additional instructions related to cruise ships preparing to conduct simulated (“trial”) voyages in advance of restricted passenger voyages under a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate. With the issuance of these next two phases, cruise ship operators now have all the necessary requirements and recommendations they need to start simulated voyages before resuming restricted passenger voyages and apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages. CDC may adjust these requirements and recommendations based on public health considerations and other factors.

At this time, CDC still recommends avoiding any travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high. It is especially important that people with an increased risk of severe illness avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises. Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on cruise ships because of their congregate (group) settings where COVID-19 spreads easily.

What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

CDC recommends that travelers avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. For most travelers, cruise ship travel is voluntary and should be rescheduled for a future date. Do not board a cruise ship if you have symptoms of COVID-19, if you know you have COVID-19, if you were exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or you are waiting for results of a COVID-19 viral test. If you are considering cruise travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, discuss this type of travel with your healthcare provider. Older adults and people of any age with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness if infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you go on a cruise during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Before you travel:
  • Get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if a vaccine is available to you.
    • People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after a single dose in a one-dose series or last dose in a two-dose series.
  • Get tested with a COVID-19 viral test 1–3 days before your departure, even if you are fully vaccinated.
    • If you test positive, isolate and do NOT travel.
  • Get travel insurance. Make sure you have a plan to get care overseas, in case you need it. Consider buying additional insurance that covers health care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will be traveling to remote areas.
While you are traveling:
  • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who is not traveling with you. It’s important to do this everywhere—both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces. Masks are required on planes, cruise ships, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports, seaports, and train and subway stations.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay in your cabin, and notify the onboard medical center immediately.
If you are returning to an international port or disembarking an international river cruise:
  • Your return travel plans may be affected. Foreign health officials may implement formal quarantine procedures if they identify a case of COVID-19 aboard your cruise ship.
  • If you travel on a cruise ship or river cruise and disembark in a foreign port, you might not be able to receive appropriate medical care or be medically evacuated if you get sick.
  • Some countries might refuse to dock your ship or allow passengers to disembark.
If you return to the United States by air:
  • All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.
After you travel:

If you are fully vaccinated: 

  • Get tested 3–5 days after your trip.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after travel; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • You do NOT need to stay home and self-quarantine after cruise travel.

If you are not fully vaccinated:

  • Get tested 3–5 days after your trip.
  • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days after travel; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after cruise travel, even if you test negative.
  • If you do not get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after cruise travel.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.

Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

Information for people who recently recovered from COVID-19

  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 3 months and met criteria to end isolation, you do NOT need to get tested before or after cruise travel unless you are symptomatic. CDC has found that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after they had COVID-19 and not be infectious to others.
  • You also do NOT need to self-quarantine after cruise travel if you have recently recovered from COVID-19, even if you are not fully vaccinated.

For additional information

 

This notice was originally posted March 17, 2020.